ON-Lion Letter

In December, the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom (CRF) successfully completed its project to rescue Iraqi Christians from a Kurdistan refugee camp. 

After ISIS stormed their towns in Nineveh Province and imposed its convert-or-die ultimatum last year, these 149 Christians fled to the Mar Elia Church camp in Erbil.  Aged between 2 months and 72 years, they include a former U.S. military translator, a dentist, a scientist, a lab technician, a mechanic, and several farmers and small business owners.  They have suffered severe losses and hardship and hold no hope of returning to their homes.

Last Summer, CRF director Nina Shea initiated a project to resettle Iraq's most-vulnerable minorities in countries where they would have residency rights (denied them in Kurdistan), practice their religion freely, and be safe.  Last August, Chaldean Catholic priest Douglas Bazi, who operates the Mar Elia camp, met with Shea at her Hudson office in Washington, D.C., and asked her help to resettle his refugees out of the region.  Shea immediately agreed.

It was the small Central European country of Slovakia that finally agreed to accept the Iraqi Christians, after being urged to do so by a key Vatican official who is Slovakian.  In December, the Hudson team took these Iraqi Christian refugees to Slovakia in a plane chartered by the Mercury One charity, supported with funds donated by thousands of American citizens.

"While the world is focused on Syrian refugees, we never forget that tens of thousands of vulnerable Iraqi Christians who've escaped ISIS remain stranded in camps in Kurdistan and throughout the region with dim prospects of ever returning home," Shea said.  "We hope our efforts will prompt other countries -- especially the United States -- to take them in."

The project was the focus of an hour-long special on ABC News' 20/20 program.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports CRF.

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